What questions should I ask an estate agent when selling my home?
Making sure to ask estate agents the right questions before signing up to their services is vital when you’re selling your home.
It will mean you’ll avoid any nasty surprises, such as unexpected fees or lengthy tie-in periods, and give you confidence that you’ll be able to sell as quickly as possible and for the best possible price.
So here are the questions that every home seller should ask the estate agent:
What are your fees?
Typically, you’ll find estate agents charge a percentage of the sale price and they should state these inclusive of VAT and provide an example breakdown of the fee.
For example, if you sell a property for £300,000, the fee may be 1% plus VAT, amounting to £3,600 (1.2%), including VAT.
But you may find that percentage fees are far greater than this, depending on the agent, and can be as much or more than 2.5%.
Check this is the only fee payable to the agent and that you won’t face paying this unless they successfully sell the property for you.
What about other costs?
Will you pay for a ‘For Sale’ board, for example, or professional photographs and floorplans? Find out any extras and any costs associated.
Remember that you’ll need an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) before putting your house on the market and these are normally charged at around £60 – £120 pounds but check for your area and property size with your agent or local EPC surveyor as you can easily have these done yourself by a local EPC registered surveyor.
What kind of contract do you use?
Estate agents offer several different types of contract and it’s important to be aware of which you’re signing up to.
Sole selling rights
This is a fairly rigid form of contract, meaning that the particular estate agent you’re signing up to is the only one allowed to sell your home during the contract period. Even if you find your own buyer, you’ll have to pay the agency fees.
If you find your own buyer, you don’t fork out anything to the agent. But if you decide this agent is not working out and turn to another who then sells the property in the contract period, you are still tied into paying the first agent.
These contracts allow you to market the property with several agents, but typically demand a higher fee. This was traditionally as a result of you having more exposure to potential buyers.
Now with most buyers using a website such as Zoopla, the higher fee reflects the risk that Agent B might sell the property, so Agent A’s marketing goes unrewarded.
What’s your tie-in period?
An agent’s contract will often include a tie-in period, depending on the type of agreement you’re entering into.
Typically, this spans around 12 weeks, with a 14-day notice period. If another agent sells the house during this time, you’ll have to stump up fees to two sets of agents.
Tie-in periods can vary dramatically between agents, from zero weeks to 20, in some cases.
How will you market my property?
The most important thing is that the Estate Agent takes the time to listen to what you are looking to achieve and then discuss a marketing strategy that will achieve that goal.
You also want to make sure the estate agent’s descriptions are honest and help point out the great features of the properties they are selling.
The photographs are even more important. Prospective buyers are drawn in visually, so having high quality pictures is a must. Ask to see specific examples, or search online yourself for a better idea.
For those reducing numbers not searching online, check how the agent will market the property in its local branches and local press.
Again, ask for specific examples and think whether these would appeal to you if you were a buyer.
How long do you take to sell properties like mine?
There are a number of factors that can affect the time it takes to sell a property, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any insight.
Ask for past examples of sales of similar properties, and predictions of how long the agent think it will take to sell your property. After all, a good agent will understand the trends in the local market.
Also, seek out friends who have used their services and can provide some insight into the level of service.
What redress scheme are you a member of?
If things go wrong, you should be able to pursue a complaint with a particular professional body.
So don’t forget to contact us with any subjects you would like us to cover or questions you would like answering in the coming episodes and until next time I would like to thank you for listening and goodbye for now.